02:41 AM

Beyond a Day at the Spa: The Future of Massage Therapy

The new model of how massage therapy in healthcare means a new way of thinking in the classroom.

If you ask Ron McKerracher where his creativity as a professional and as an instructor is leading him, he’ll give you a surprising answer.


McKerracher isn’t a professor of communications or English literature. He’s a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) with his own practice in Toronto and is a part time professor of massage therapy at Mohawk College.

Although he works primarily with his hands, McKerracher believes it is important to share with his students and clients the importance of words.

“In any medical setting there is a disconnect between medical language and its understanding,” explains McKerracher. ”I love the idea of taking complex knowledge and articulating it so that people can have an empowered understanding of their circumstances.”

McKerracher’s emphasis on communicating medical language is intentional. In his practice and in his teaching, he’s reflecting a paradigm shift about how we think about massage therapy.

“Historically, the place has been outside the healthcare field as an alternative field,” says McKerracher about the identification of massage therapy as a ‘day at the spa’. “The nice thing about our field is that it is growing and becoming more mainstream. With that there is a responsibility to become really integrated as a healthcare practitioner in the context of other healthcare practitioners.”

McKerracher is dedicated to helping the next generation of massage therapists understand their place within the healthcare treatment model- where physician referrals for ailments such as back pain have become more commonplace.

Within the classroom, and at Mohawk’s Massage Therapy Student Clinic, he believes that students must master more than just technique; they must also have a strong understanding of how to develop goal-oriented treatment plans that can effectively help a client with their physical pain. And unquestionably, they must also be skilled communicators.

“As a therapist, we have the unique opportunity to have an hour at a time with our client, so we can relate complex issues in a way they understand. We can become a resource to them.”

This article was originally published in the 2015 volume of Quanta, Mohawk College’s annual celebration of research and innovation.

Author Andrea Johnson is Promotions and Industry Liaison Officer for iDeaWORKS and the editor of Quanta.

About Mohawk

Mohawk College educates and serves more than 29,500 full-time, part-time, apprenticeship and international students at three main campuses in Hamilton, Ontario and learning hubs across Hamilton through City School by Mohawk, and at the College’s Centre for Aviation Technology at the Hamilton International Airport. Mohawk is among the top five colleges for applied research in Canada. It has been named one of Canada’s greenest employers seven years in a row, holds a GOLD STARS rating from AASHE for sustainability achievements and is home to the country’s largest and first institutional building to receive dual certification for Zero Carbon Building Framework design and performance for The Joyce Centre for Partnership & Innovation. More than 135,000 people have graduated from Mohawk since it was founded.